Passage of Maharlika fund bill before PBBM's SONA ‘ideal’ but questions persist —Imee Marcos

Passage of the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill before the July State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" R. Marcos Jr. is the ideal.

But the "ideal" might not happen because there are still a lot of questions that senators wanted answered by Senator Mark A. Villar, chairman of the Senate bank committee, presidential sister Senator Imee Marcos told Senate reporters.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said the Senate opposition would try to block the passage of the MIF bill but would respect Senate rules.

Marcos admitted that she has not yet framed her vote because Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri invited senators to a caucus this afternoon before the floor debate on the MIF bill resumes today.

Last week, Zubiri expressed hopes that the Senate would be able to pass the measure before Congress goes into sine die adjournment late week.

Marcos herself said the country should have surplus funds to finance the proposed sovereign fund measure but it is saddled with trillions of pesos in debt.

From a "sovereign fund," the concept of the economic adviser of the Marcos administration  has been transformed into an "investment fund," Pimentel noted.

"Kasi ang pagkaintindi ko, nagkakaroon ng sovereign fund kapag nagka-jackopot ang isang bansa (To my understanding, a country has a sovereign fund when it hits a jackpot)," Marcos said.

She cited the Malampaya gas field but this did not happen.

"Sa ibang bansa, kapag nakahanap sila ng oil. Ayun, jackpot rin (Other countries hit a jackpot when they find oil). Ayun, when you get a windfall, that’s usually the beginning of a sovereign fund (There, you have a windfall ),  Eh I don’t feel any windfall right now, I feel utang! (I don’t feel there is a windfall right now, I feel it is debt),’’ she added.

She emphasized that it is not wise to get the funds from the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). The bill states that P50-billion will come from DBP and P25-billion from Land Bank.

Senators also are fearful on the fate of Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) retirement funds because their board of directors might decide to invest their funds to the MIF.

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said money from these financial agencies should earn more than six percent per annum as rate of return of investment (ROI) if they are to be invested at all.

Marcos cited the sovereign funds of Abu Dhabi and Norway as models.

"Eh ngayon nalulugi kasi nag-invest sila sa sangkatutak na mga digital stocks. Naku, nangangamote sila ngayon (Now, they lost in their investments on digital stocks). So nakakaniyerbos (I am nervous)," she pointed out.

Pimentel had said the certification by President Marcos of the MIF bill as "urgent" is unconstitutional because no emergency exists.